Larry's Reviews > Niceville
Jul 27, 2012
The nice town that isn't nice at all is a staple in horror literature (see "Salem's Lot" or "The Dome" by Stephen King), but it's a hard trick to accomplish. Stroud usually writes in a clear and straightforward way (see "Lizardskin," for instance), but he attempts a gothic, archaic tone here and it doesn't quite work. In addition, there are too many strands: disappearances, bank robberies, shootings, suicides, and a Chinese group searching for a magic item. The explanation doesn't bring all of the strands together in a way that is quite believable, though it is obvious from the beginning that the crater lake at the top of the limestone cliff is at the center of things. (The map of the area is full of cutesy names, by the way.) What manages to save the book is Stroud's sheer writing ability that rises above his own choices in this book, and his past history of delivering on his plot premises. That gets him three stars from me, instead of the two stars I might have given someone whose past work wasn't so good.
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